April is Stress Awareness Month, so in the spirit of boosting awareness, we’re answering one of the most common questions that we get from patients: “can stress affect your dental health?” The short answer is yes, 100% stress can and will affect your teeth directly and indirectly. Most of the time, patients don’t even realize how common everyday stressors (causes of stress) impact their overall health- let alone their dental health. As a quick exercise, take a second to notice the way your jaw feels right now, as you are reading this article. Does your jaw feel tense? Are your teeth touching? Could you even be clenching your jaw right this moment? If so, you are answering the title of this blog!

How and Why Does Stress Affect Dental Health?

Why: When the body is in a state of distress, one of the first processes it goes through is tensing the muscles as an act of protecting itself from pain. Because of the tension, you may subconsciously grind or clench your teeth as a way of releasing some of the built-up tension and energy in the muscles. Many people don’t even know that they grind or clench their teeth! Sometimes patients don’t realize it until their dentist tells them they are showing signs of clenching/grinding. In that case, a nightguard is usually recommended.

How: Grinding and clenching your teeth can and will put pressure on the teeth, not to mention the stress that these motions puts on the jaw joint. Often times, people that grind their teeth at night will feel headaches and/or pain in the teeth when they wake up. If those symptoms are occurring, then these issues should be addressed by a dentist as soon as possible. Over time, if grinding/clenching continue untreated, the teeth will crack and fracture which may cause pain and possible infection.  

What Can I Do To Prevent Stress-Related Damage To My Teeth?

Stress and the havoc that it can wreak on dental health are preventable and treatable! Try some of the following ways to reduce stress and prevent dental damage.

1. Exercise daily to relieve stress

Exercising for at least 30 minutes a day has been proven to help reduce stress as well as improve other bodily processes.

2. Visit your dentist to have a custom nightguard made

One of the best things you can do for your dental health is to take care of your teeth! By having a custom nightguard made, you can prevent any more dental damage from occurring while you sleep. This will help to prevent fractures and cracks in the teeth.

3. Try deep breathing exercises to promote relaxation and relieve tension

Deep breathing helps to relax all of the built up tension in the muscles, as well as help to clear a stressed mind.

A body and mind that is over-stressed is never a good thing. Make sure to prevent stress-related dental damage by scheduling a dental appointment for a custom nightguard at 516-825-1100.

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